With the holidays over and spring in my eyes, it is time to get back to gear reviews! And food is gear, no? TrailCooking received a hefty package of meals from the folks at Wise Foods recently. Lots to choose from indeed. Wise Foods has been in the business of emergency/survival/preparation foods for a considerable time but has recently branched into meals packaged towards the outdoor crowds – in that the bags are designed similar to other freeze-dried food companies for ease of use. What separates Wise Foods from the others is that the meals are vegetarian but are still “American Classics” and not “hippy fare”. After trying the meals out I can say that most people wouldn’t notice the faux meat (it is TVP in various flavors, mimicking beef, chicken, etc). Freeze-dried meat isn’t exactly known for being gourmet and the flavored TVP’s work well, often tasting better than the real stuff. The other benefit of the vegetarian meals is that they are extremely shelf stable. 7 years in fact. The company also only uses American produced food for its products.
There is one thing to consider though – many of their meals have a LOT of fiber due to the use of TVP. If you are not used to eating it expect certain stomach issues if you get my drift. Don’t eat a lot of it until you get used to it! Especially if you are on a date!! (It is the same reason I always tell folks to get used to stuff by Fantastic Foods, particularly the veggie chili dry mix). I have seen other reviews for Wise Foods where the reviewer had stomach pains later that night after eating. It is simply due to not being used to fiber of this sort 😉 Drink a lot of water with it as well. Or take Beano© 😛
The company offers a deal on a 12 pack of the outdoor meals that lowers the price considerably. It includes the cheesy lasagna, stroganoff, creamy chicken pasta and chicken ala king. They also offer a 4 pack, with one of each flavor.
4.8 ounces in weight, technically a 2 serving.
The pasta used is a mix of shapes – ribbons and twisties:
Simple to prepare: Add 2 cups boiling water, stir well, seal up and let sit for 12 minutes. Stir up and eat:
Lots of big chunks of “beef” and tomatoes. It has a pleasing smell – no “Spaghettio’s©” smell (lets just say that one brand we reviewed years ago was neon red and reeked of the can variety. It was not a good thing.) The meal isn’t overly seasoned so those who like comfort food would go for this. It is though a solid 1 person serving size wise. A whole bag has 26 grams of protein, 520 calories, 12 grams fat and a huge dose of 10 grams of fiber. It is a pleasing meal and I wouldn’t mind having this one in our emergency kit and bug out bags.
It is 4.2 ounces in weight and also calls for 2 cups boiling water. Of all the meals sent (outside of the granola mentioned below) it has about half the sodium per serving (a little over 500). It is a blend of rice, peas and “chicken”.
Of the three meals we tested in this run we did not care for this one. It was really soupy. The rice also required more sitting time (it really needed 15 to 20 minutes versus 12). It just needed something – be it herbs, Parmesan cheese and a lot more vegetables. Had it been bulked up with more vegetables it would have been more casserole like than soup. With tweaking this could have worked, but not straight out of the package for our liking.
The third was Honey Granola, offered in the one time use package (no closure):
Over the years I have tried a number of packaged granola’s aimed at the outdoor crowd. What has always struck me is how crappy they are – often over cooked, small and hard cereal pieces that just don’t excite the taste buds by any means. So I didn’t have any expectations for it and was pleasantly surprised. The granola is fresh smelling, large chunks (lots of texture that way for when you crave crunching), big pieces of slivered almonds. It wasn’t all crunched up into dust. No hard pieces. They have done this well – what it reminded me of is the granola you can buy in bulk at many natural food stores that is so tasty.The ingredient list is about the same as well.
The bag has 2 cups, which I would call 2 hearty servings (the bag says 4). Pack your own milk of choice (which I personally like this – Kirk and Ford like soy milk, I prefer cow). Just split the cereal into sandwich bags and go! The only thing is that the breakfast bags are sold in big kits – but if you are building an emergency supply of food along with your backpacking stores, it can be a good deal. (And you should be! Don’t make me lecture you!) All you need for one summer is bucket of the bags and a tub of NIDO milk 😉
More meals reviewed!